gwalla (gwalla) wrote,

Poker nights

I've been to a couple more poker nights since the first, and have enjoyed myself (even though I have yet to come out ahead). I'm not a great gambler by any means, but I do like calling weird variants. Here are a few that we've played (aside from plain old Texas hold 'em, which is our default game):
  • My invention Crosstown Traffic was well-received. It's been called more than once since I first called it, and not just by me. At the last game, John said he thought the pattern in which cards are dealt to the board was a little hard to remember. I'm not sure what would be easier to remember though. Still, it makes for a pretty good game, and would probably play even better in a larger group.
  • Sixpack was another good one (and the one I was most successful at).
  • Baseball was a surprise hit. vcwhitey called it the first time, but John really liked it, probably because it makes people bet like lunatics. The way we play, 3 and 9s are wild, a player who receives a 3 as an upcard must pay a penalty of 10¢ (one white chip, the lowest denomination) or fold, and a 4 dealt as an upcard means the player receives an additional hole card before the final betting round. Silly, but fun, and the pot gets pretty big. Last Friday, another guy (Thomas) called the type of Baseball he was used to, with 4s resulting in an immediate hole card, the ability to turn a 4 dealt to the hole up to receive another card, and payment only required to make 3s wild. It wasn't as popular.
  • Last Friday I introduced Oxford stud, a combined stud/community card variant invented at MIT, and it was also well received. The combination of upcards and community cards is an interesting twist.
  • Ivy League Baseball was an ad-hoc invention I called last Friday: it's Oxford stud with Baseball rules. Community cards count as an upcard to everybody, so a 4 to the board gets everyone an extra hole card, and a 3 means that everyone (starting with the highest hand showing and going clockwise) must pay up or fold. It was kind of chaotic, but people seemed to enjoy it.
  • Low hole wild was called by Thomas. 7-card stud with each player's lowest card in the hole, and all cards of the same rank, wild for them only. Pretty fun.
  • We tried out Anaconda. Thomas's version gave everyone 7 cards and included 3 passes in alternating directions, and a rollout. It was confusing and nobody was particularly happy with it. I called the version I knew, where everyone got 6 cards, the passes all went to the left, and there were betting rounds between passes with no rollout. It too was a bust. I think we've all decided that nobody's going to be calling Anaconda again.
  • Thomas also called Screw Your Neighbor. It's technically not poker at all: everyone antes up three stakes of a set amount (usually one white chip), and receives a card. Starting with the player to dealer's left, the player may keep his card or exchange it with the player to his left. The last player in the rotation may keep his card or discard it and draw one from the deck. Then everyone reveals their cards: the lowest card must put one of their stakes into the pot. Then everyone is dealt a new card and the rotation starts again with the next player. Once a player has lost all three of his stakes, he is out. The last player standing wins the pot. A good game, although the winnings are a bit limited. We played a few times with 10¢ stakes, at least once with 20¢ stakes, and one time with $1 stakes. $1 is probably too much, really.
  • I called Russian Revolution, which is another 7-stud with a bunch of wild cards and penalties like Baseball. In this case, aces, 9s, and 7s are wild (think 1917). Receiving a face card (K Q J) requires you to pay a penalty and receive a replacement—you can't win with royalty showing (although face cards in the hole are safe). The reaction was mixed. I dunno if I'll bother calling it again.
We played a couple of other variants, but I've forgotten what they were.

I've got some ideas for other variants floating around in my head. I may post about them when I feel like they've solidified.

I also just received a 6-handed 500 deck I ordered online from Newt's Playing Cards. This is a regular Bicycle deck but with extra ranks: 11s and 12s for all suits, and 13s for red suits, making a total of 62 cards. I might try breaking this out on poker night just to see what happens. I'm also considering getting a Stardeck (13 ranks with a 5th suit) and/or an Empire Deck (13 suits, 6 suits). I wish I could find a Sextet deck (another 6-suit deck, but with the new suits in blue instead of one red and one black), because that would actually make the russ (a nonstandard hand: 5 cards of the same color) somewhat valuable, but they're long out of print. One of the variant ideas I've been playing with would basically require a 6-suit deck with 2 jokers to be playable without running the risk of running out of cards.
Tags: games, poker

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